Wednesday, March 10, 2021

BRIEF: Gold of the Realm (1988)

 
The game starts out looking like an RPG. This screen looks like it came from a Quest for Glory title.

     
Gold of the Realm
United States
Magnetic Images (developer and publisher)
Released 1988 for Amiga and Atari ST
    
I have to say, I'm not 100% confident in the "United States" label for this one. The manual for Gold of the Realm, maddeningly, has no address or contact information for the company. When Magnetic Images released its next game, Lost Dutchman Mine (1989), they did it through Innerprise of Hunt Valley, Maryland, which suggests a U.S. developer. On the other hand, you hardly ever see the Amiga/Atari ST combo in the United States, and the only review I could find is from a German magazine. If I had deemed it an RPG, I'd try harder to verify.
       
The game begins as you arrive at a castle.
       
Gold of the Realm is in fact a variant of the graphical Adventure (1982) for the Atari 2600, right down to offering easy, medium, and hard options, with items randomized at higher levels. The character roams a multi-leveled maze that goes inside, below, and outside one or more castles. The place is full of locked doors, traps, and other obstacles requiring the right inventory item. You run around the maze, trying to keep track of what you need to use in what location, ultimately making your way to a fortune in gold.
      
A skeleton tries to stop me from picking up a key.
     
There's a long, unnecessary backstory that sets up the character as Nigel, a commoner from a local village who finds a dying man on his front door stoop. Before he dies, he tells a story of the legendary treasure of the Four Princes, rulers from a golden age who were betrayed by an evil wizard. The difficulty level you set for the game determines how many of the Four Princes' vacant castles that you explore.
  
A couple of locked doors lead to items, plus there's a potion (or maybe just food) on the table.
     
There are enemies in the castles, including ghosts and skeletons, but they're meant to be avoided rather than engaged. If there are any weapons in the game, they're likely solutions to specific enemies rather than a general combat option. You have health, which goes down every time you get hit by an enemy or set off a trap. You can replenish health with potions (I think they're potions) that you find on tables in various rooms. There are no other attributes or skills.
  
My inventory fills up as I pick up some pills. I have a magic scroll that tells me the uses of the things I pick up.
      
I played for about an hour, but man, this game is boring. It's just a little dude walking around a maze, finding a key in the northwest corner of the fourth level that he has to bring to the southeast corner of the first level, where he finds a potion that will get him past a trap in the middle of the basement, and so forth. There are RPGs that do this, of course, but in between those corners, you encounter monsters to fight and NPCs to talk with. Here, at least to a CRPG player, the game feels curiously empty, as if the developers ran out of funding before they could introduce those mechanics.
    
Having none of my three core criteria, this game fails to achieve RPG status no matter what the Amiga "Hall of Light" database says.

19 comments:

  1. "When Magnetic Scrolls released its next game"

    Magnetic Images != Magnetic Scrolls

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    1. The moment I saw the name, I said, "I'm going to confuse this company with Magnetic Scrolls." And then I went and did it literally in the second sentence.

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  2. On the matter of being rightfully labeled as "United States", maybe this image from the box back helps? https://www.mocagh.org/miscgame/goldrealm-back.jpg

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    1. Ah! I thought I looked at that. That's pretty clear, then.

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  3. Replies
    1. Honestly, with my colorblindness, I can barely perceive there's anything there. That's a problem with keys on the floors, too.

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    2. Definitely apples, but I had to zoom in to tell. A clearer sprite would have been a good idea.

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  4. The 2600 Adventure managed a more charming look than this, duck-dragons and all.

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    1. This doesn't really seem that much like 2600 Adventure at all. I played the hell out of that game back on the day.

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    2. I might be misremembering it, but I'm not talking about graphics. I'm talking about the basic nature of running around a maze to find keys, with essentially no combat.

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    3. Atari 2600 did have you running around a maze to find keys, true, but traversing the mazes was pretty quick, and there was combat. 3 different (duck) dragons roamed the map or guarded favorite objects, and all of them wanted to eat you. You could try to kill them if you were currently holding the sword (you could only carry one object at a time). You could try to just continually avoid them/steal objects from under them, but it generally made your life easier if you slayed them (especially the red dragon if it was guarding something, usually the grail, your end-quest object). If one of the dragons did eat you, you could resurrect yourself at the start point with the current game state being maintained, but this would *also* resurrect any killed duck-dragons.

      In addition, there was a bat flying around the game world would decide steal and swap objects, even ones you carried (so sometimes the bat could fly in carrying a dragon, steal your sword, and drop the dragon at your feet!). There was also interesting ways to interact with the world: a bridge you could carry and place anywhere that allowed you cross through solid walls and a magnet that would pull objects toward it. Some mazes were catacombs, with visibility of walls limited to a radius around your square-self, which was quite never-wracking when a duck-dragon was bouncing your way. The third, highest difficulty level would randomize the locations of all objects which kept things fresh (but could create an unwinnable game state).

      So, I see the point of the basics being similar, but 2600 Adventure's micro-world was more lively than what this game seems to offer.

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  5. So it's essentially backtracking: the game, huh?

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    1. That sounds like a frustrating game, you start by the end boss and have to go back and forth the same road until you find the key to open the door to the end boss.

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    2. That technically also applies to The Summoning :)

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  6. Part of the fun of Adventure is its simplicity and shortness. There is practically nothing you could add to improve it, and the least of those things is more play time.

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  7. Which is emptier: this, or Faery Tale Adventure?

    Sounds like yet another Amiga title where they were so entranced at the amazing graphics they were making that they neglected to put a game in there.

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    1. This. FTA at least had random combats as you wandered through its huge spaces.

      While I snarkily want to agree with your second paragraph (and said as much above), it's important to recognize that I'm coming at this from an RPG perspective. Naturally, I see the game "lacking" combats. But there might be people out there who just want to play a game where they find keys, unlock doors, and get gold.

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  8. I’m just offering my partially-usual quasi-biennial (rounded off, plus or minus a few years) comment of encouragement and appreciation for the content and author of this great blog. It doesn’t matter that this particular game is sort of terrible and sort of irrelevant in the big picture. It is still part of the mission, which of itself has been demonstrated innumerable times over as an accomplishment and effect much greater than the sum of its parts. This is why I still check daily what Chet is up to and what his most recent and cumulative contributions to digital history are, a decade plus into this endeavour. As cliche as it reads, I can’t thank him enough for his work and what it means to me and, I am sure, to a great many more of like mind.

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    1. Thank you, Cedar. I always appreciate positive feedback.

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